8 Jun 2010

Michael Hill closing half its loss-making US stores

9:24 pm on 8 June 2010

Michael Hill Jeweller is closing half its stores in the US, where its American arm expects to post a loss of $US6 million this year.

The listed jewellery chain bought 17 stores from the US company Whitehall Jewelers, which went bankrupt in 2008.

But following a review of the business the company will close eight stores by the end of the month, at a cost of an extra $US1.8 million.

Speaking from Las Vegas, Michael Hill International chief executive Mike Parsell says the company is operating in the some of the harshest retail and economic conditions in recent history and it could be several years before the US business becomes profitable.

But the remaining nine US stores will be refurbished this year, Mr Parsell says, to bring them all up to the company's latest global concept.

Shares in Michael Hill had fallen fell 4c to 66c in Tuesday trading.